Jonathan Pryce, Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs), and Christian Slater star in Björn Runge’s adaptation of Meg Wolitzer’s bestselling novel about Joan Castleman (Close), who begins to re-evaluate her marriage to her author husband, Joe (Pryce), on the eve of his Nobel Prize presentation, and starts to grapple with her own long-dormant literary aspirations.
An incisive study of celebrity, marriage and the creative process—as well as a showcase for the talents of acclaimed actors Close and Pryce—The Wife explodes the old notion that behind every great man stands a great woman.
Joe Castleman is being given the Nobel Prize for Literature, and he and wife Joan could not be happier. But from the moment the couple arrives in Stockholm, tensions rise. A nosy, insistent would-be biographer (Slater) is loitering in the hotel lobby, an attractive young photographer opens old wounds regarding past indiscretions, and Joe and Joan’s son David (Max Irons), eternally irked at living in his father’s shadow, sulks through the celebrations. What is more, with all the attention being paid to Joe’s long career, the normally shy Joan is pushed uncomfortably into the spotlight, where long-kept secrets are in danger of being illuminated.
The Wife is a procession of perfectly pitched scenes from a seemingly perfect marriage. Runge calibrates each for maximum impact, focusing on unspoken agreements and long-simmering resentments. His greatest allies in the endeavour are, of course, his stars. Pryce exudes pathos as a literary icon still suffering from insecurities, while Close smoulders in an intricately textured, quietly devastating performance.
“[A] smart, supremely watchable and entertaining film… This is an unmissable movie for Glenn Close fans. Actually, you can’t watch it without becoming a fan— if you weren’t one already.” (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian)
“As fraught with drama as this powder keg of heightened circumstances may be, make no mistake, The Wife is more than an actor’s showcase. The film itself is superb, a ticking time-bomb of simmering tension which benefits from the audience knowing as little as possible in advance.” (Jordan Ruimy, The Film Stage)